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Updated 05 June 2019

Four-year-old Pretoria girl survives dangerous brain surgery

"Even doctors can’t believe how well she’s recovering."

She’s a living miracle, says Charné Ludick (26) of her daughter, four-year-old Chardiney Ludick.

Chardiney is defying the odds by recovering from a recent high-risk brain surgery.

“Even doctors can’t believe how well she’s recovering,” Charné says. “She’s playing and drawing – we’re struggling to keep her still.”

Chardiney was diagnosed with a brain tumour in February. It’s been a tough few months for Charné and her fiancé, Willem Stork (37), from Pretoria.

The couple also have twin boys, Sebastian and Alexander, who are only 14 months old.

Surgeons have successfully removed 70% of the tumour, which had been 4cm in diameter. And Charné and Willem are waiting to hear if the tumour is malignant.

The ordeal started when Chardiney was hospitalised with an infection caused by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The virus is especially prevalent in young children and affects the respiratory system. Once discharged from hospital, Chardiney suffered a seizure.

“At first I thought it was because she was still weak from the virus. But when it happened a second time we started wondering why,” Charné says.

After monitoring Chardiney’s brain activity for a day by using an electroencephalogram, as well as doing an MRI, her doctor noticed something on the scans.

“He couldn’t quite see if it was a growth or whether her brain just hadn’t completely developed yet. She was put on medication but the seizures continued until eventually surgery was the only option,” Charné says.

“It’s tough,” she admits. “She’s my first-born and my only girl. But so many people have been praying for her.”

Before the diagnosis, Chardiney struggled with her speech and doctors now say the tumour may have been the reason.

“She’ll now get speech and occupational therapy to help her catch up,” Charné says.

The medical bills have hit the family hard – Charné has a hospital plan but it doesn’t cover all the costs.

“A friend suggested Willem create a WhatsApp group to ask for help seeing as so many people care.” Willem had been on the way to the bank to get a loan when the friend called, but after the couple’s plight did the rounds on social media, Charné and Willem were able to cover all the medical expenses. Charné says once they know Chardiney has completely recovered, they’ll donate any leftover funds to other sick children.

Chardiney’s speedy recovery impressed doctors and she was moved from the ICU to a regular ward just three days after the operation. A day later, she was discharged.

Now they’re waiting for her to recover completely so further tests can determine if the tumour has grown. Then doctors will decide how to proceed with treatment.

Charne Ludick

The little girl has to stay home for eight weeks before she can return to school.

“She’s so busy at the moment – we’re trying to keep her still so that she doesn’t injure herself and so that her brain can rest,” Charné says.

“This whole thing has made me believe in miracles again.”

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